#JanaanUKPressMeet A beautiful day in London is described as a sunny one with a simple picnic in the park. But no, it was a typical day with the British summer rain pouring on the famous Oxford Street. Luckily, I had an umbrella with me. I’m one of those people who hates carrying an umbrella, but this one was a special day.
I was there to interview the main ‘Janaan’ cast: Ali Rehman Khan, Armenia Khan and Bilal Ashraf who were here to promote their upcoming film, Janaan. So I made my way to the Courthouse Hotel on the Great Marlborough Street just off Carnaby Street (famous for The Beetles).
Janaan has been directed by Azfar Jafri, written by Osman Khalid Butt and co-produced by Hareem Farooq, Reham Khan, Munir Hussain and Imran Raza Kazmi under production banners of IRK Films and Munir Hussain Films – UK.
Read all about Janaan by the main characters themselves: Asfandyar, Meena and Daniyal.
Tell us a bit about your character in the film.
Armeena: Meena is a combination of two nationalities, Pakistani and Canadian. She left Pakistan at a young age and she is brought up in Canada for a number of years and now she is sort of returning to her roots. The film is really the coming together of everyone. Its about the culture, its about the family, its about how she has lost touch with everything and how she rekindles all her relationships.
Its very much a coming of age film and she has some preconceived notions about Pakistan which are done away when she returns to her country. She sees what the country really is, the support we get, the atmosphere, the family, what does it all mean so it goes hand in hand with the tag line of the film which is ‘celebration of life’.
Bilal: I think Armeena has pretty much summed it up. My character’s name is Asfandyar and Janaan basically revolves around the Pashtoon culture but also touches upon the Punjab culture. Yes it is a celebration of life. The breathtaking locations which have never been shot before i.e. in Sawat. What Janaan does is it goes over the final things of life, of family and relationships which eventually adds up. It covers everything: how and what a family goes through and what Pakistan culture is all about.
Ali: My characters name is Daniyal. Asfandyar is more of a serious village boy, he’s more of a very serious personality. He’s a city boy and he’s a very unfiltered version of everything you’ve seen. He doesn’t think about what he says. He falls in love every 5 seconds.
He’s one of those people who always gets what he wants. So for him to be present, he has to have full attention of everyone around him. He’s one of those guys that needs or grabs your attentions. He’s a fun character. He has many layers, its not just a one dimensional character. He has a serious side to him as well which you will see in the film. That’s all I want to say because I want you to watch the film and have the Daniyal experience.
You got to work with the legendary Ajab Gul and Mishi Khan. How was that experience?
Bilal: It was great. It was a ride because we had such a good time. Mishi Khan is a blast to work with.
Ali: She is as bubbly as in real life as she is on screen. She’s such a great pleasure to work with.
Bilal: I don’t think anyone else could have played that role better.
Ali: She did such a wonderful job and because she has such a positive energy all the time. She always has these really funny things to say and the way she is in real life, you’re always tuned into what she’s trying to say.
Bilal: Even when we had been shooting for a while and our energies were low she would walk in and lighten up the room. We were all having fun, messing around with each other and joking around. As far as Ajab Gul is concerned he’s a very seasoned senior actor and he’s playing my father in the film. He’s someone we’ve learnt a lot from in terms of acting, just little tips he used to give to Ali, Armeena and myself.
He’s just that fatherly figure, very calm, composed personality and I think it was a great combination because it was funny, you’ve mentioned both of these characters because one is very bubbly and the other one has this calming effect.
Ali: I think Ajab Gul because of his experience in the industry, he’s able to deliver such a versatile array of characters. This is very different to what he has been playing in the past. I feel for me its one of his best work. He did a really good job and again my interaction with him wasn’t as much as Bilal.
Armeena: It was my first experience working with such legends. I learnt a lot from them and they were extremely supportive. I was very nervous in the beginning, but they helped me through the whole film.
You also got to work with Jalaal Khan, did you get to learn any Karate?
(Fits of Laughter)
Me: Actually he was my teacher in the 2nd grade.
Ali: Really? I remember learning karate from Jalaal Sahib when I was 6 or 7. As he is from Islamabad, he’s one of those really popular faces so its been really exciting to have him on board. He’s such a great character, I mean, again one of those positive energies that you really appreciate on set. He would always be there to lend a helping hand and to listen to you when you needed the most and he’s one of those people who’s always genuinely there for you. He has a very good heart.
Bilal: And he brings really good karate steps into the sets. (laughs)
Ali: He’s also a very good motivational speaker. And you will see it in the role he’s played, he’s done a phenomenal job and he plays my father.
How was it working with Fahad Panni?
Ali: Fahad Panni! It was fantastic! Actually I’ll let Armeena answer this one.
Armeena: (giggles) He was my go-to-guy, if I was particularly having a down day which didn’t really happen very often but if it did I’d go to him, sit with him and he’s the kind of person who’ll defuse positive energy. Mishi Khan was one and the other one was Fahad Panni. I’d just sit with him and laugh my heart out. He has the ability to just snap you out of it and he played my father (laughs) in the film which was very interesting. Overall a very fun person to work with. And again, each actor brings something to the set and I think I learnt something from him.
Bilal: As Asfandyar’s character is a very serious one, which you will see once you watch the film, Panni’s character is one character who Asfandyar really gets along with and is very relaxed around. Probably one of the only characters I had a great chemistry with.
Can you share one funny incident that happened at the sets?
Bilal: One? (laughs)
Ali: We’ve had so many honestly. (laughs)
Armeena: Here’s a fun one, we used to go out and eat from this restaurant.
Ali: It was a cafe and we used to have coffee overtime we finished the shoot.
Armeena: I think it was called The Relax. What was it called?
Ali: Ohh That place!
Bilal: Yeah that was in Sawat. If you go to Sawat, please go to ‘Relax’. (laughs) Because you will really relax! Thats what I’m going to say and yes great food.
Armeena: Best food and I think it was one of our main sources of entertainment.
Bilal: It was.
Armenia: We finished quite late so we …
Me: So you went to ‘Relax’.
(room filled with fits of laughter)
In the end any message that each of you would like to give to the youth of Pakistan who really look up to you as a role model?
Ali: Be hungry. Don’t compromise on anything. Always go for your dreams. In our society everyone always tells us to be quite but I think its important to be loud, be yourself and just engage.
Armeena: I’d say follow your dreams. Really really go for what is it that your heart desires. If you want to, for example, be an actor then pursue it because now the time is coming when people won’t be thinking twice about it as it is becoming a very respectable industry. I’lll say to the girls also that if you want to come into the industry then you should, its very welcoming. There’s a lot of educated people. Live life happy and try to give people the smaller chance and appreciate everything, because you don’t know, you might not be here tomorrow.
Bilal: Adding to what Ali and Armeena said, believe in yourself, self belief is the key to success. There will always be a lot of people trying to pull you down on your way up. Everything you’re doing in life will have a lot of negativity. So my advice is to take all that negativity and turn into positivity. Prove with your work. If someone has a negative comment, especially I see a lot of stuff happening on social media, you don’t have to stoop down to their level. Sit and answer back with your work. Work harder. Thats what I do, whenever there’s any negative comment I just take it positively and I work harder.
What do you think about this interview? Let me know in the comments below.
Poster Number 1
Poster Number 2
A melodious album from the upcoming Pakistani rom-com with the Title Track sung by Bollywood’s Shreya Ghosal and Armaan Malik
The soundtrack for the upcoming Pakistani romantic comedy film, Janaan, is now out on iTunes. With a melodious and charming collection of 5 songs, Indian playback singers Shreya Ghosal and Armaan Malik have lent theirsoulful vocals for the title track of the film to the composition of Bollywood’s musical duo, Salim-Sulaiman, with lyrics written by Fatima Najeeb. Also contributed to the album are Ahmed Ali and Taha Malik.
Speaking about his experience of working with the cross border talents, one of the music composer of Janaan, Ahmed Ali said, “It was great. A totally different experience because they brought something very unique to the table.”
Starring Armeena Khan, Bilal Ashraf and Ali Rehman Khan, Janaan hits the cinemas on 13th September 2016.
Listen and download the Janaan Soundtrack now:
Presented by IRK Films, Munir Hussain Films – UK (Pepe’s Piri Piri Group) and ARY Films, Janaan releases in cinemas on Eid ul Azha 13th September 2016 and is distributed by B4U Motion Pictures
Natasha Kundi is an entertainment writer based in London. She also writes on her own blog www.natashakundi.com. Follow Natasha on her social media @natashaklondon.
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